Carrying the values of Preble Street – Peter Adams

For the past 25 years, Peter Adams has been a fixture at Preble Street, helping to keep the buildings maintained, clients and staff safe, and the community clean. But, he’s done so much more for Preble Street than just his job duties – he’s been a friend to all who have come in our doors – from clients to staff to partners; he’s enlightened us on topics from NASCAR to Portland in the 1980s to the many quirks of the building at 5 Portland Street; and he’s brightened the days of so many each holiday season as ‘Santa.’ On Friday, May 31, Peter is retiring from Preble Street, leaving big shoes to fill!

When Peter first started at Preble Street in 1999, he was the only member of the Facilities team and Preble Street had about 30 employees and just one building. Now it takes ten people to maintain the buildings and keep the sidewalks in front of Preble Street buildings and around the neighborhood clear of snow and trash.

“I will miss him. Dearly,” shares Mark Swann, Executive Director. “He’s one of a kind. He’s a character. He’s part of the history here. Part of the story of Preble Street and did a lot of great work for us. Peter carried the values of this agency and the way he approached this job, and he’s been a good friend for a long time.”

Swannie and Peter in November 2021 on the last day at the Preble Street Soup Kitchen before relocating to the Food Security Hub.

“Peter has maintained very beautiful relationships with clients over the years. Many of our clients view him as the bedrock of Preble Street and he has a wonderful ability to connect with many folks,” shares Jennie Soares, Elena’s Way Wellness Shelter Supervisor.

“Peter played an integral role in the days of the Preble Street Resource Center [5 Portland Street which is now Elena’s Way] setting up for memorial services and making sure there were enough tissues,” adds Soares. And his knowledge of this building is such an institution; there will just things that people aren’t going to know after he leaves. I cannot imagine Preble Street without him!”

Even before he was officially a Preble Street employee, Peter was ‘Santa’ at various Preble Street holiday events. Peter was “the best, most loving Santa Claus and the teens felt his kind heart as he strolled through the Teen Center with the warmest smile. For all the kind words and all the nonjudgmental work, you did to make this community cleaner and sweeter and kinder …. thank you,” shares Peggy Akers, who provided medical care at the Preble Street Teen Center for many years.

Peter has been an institution at this agency, as the second longest serving staff member (after Swannie). We can’t wait to welcome him back this fall at our annual Staff Block Party to accept the first 25-year plaque we’ve ever given.

When we asked Peter what has kept him working at Preble Street for so long, he shared that it was the ‘feeling that you were doing something for the community. Yes, there’s a lot of fixing up that and fixing up this, but in the grand scheme, it is a sense of accomplishment and helping your fellow person live from day to day.”

Peter, thank you for all that you have done for Preble Street and our community. We will miss you and can’t wait to see you in September!

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